Never Underestimate Your Influence

IMG_9549

 

Henrietta Mears saw the best in the people God placed in her life. Although at an early age her physical eyesight began to deteriorate leading to eventual blindness, her insight into God’s word and talent of seeing the potential in others grew in strength throughout her life.  Born in 1890, Henrietta loved God’s word from an early age.  She constantly begged her parents to let her go to the adult Sunday School classes at her church, so she could learn deeper truths about the Bible. She taught her first Sunday school class at eleven years old.  When Henrietta graduated from high school her eye doctor warned her that she should not seek further education as it would strain what little eyesight she had left.

Henrietta didn’t let the doctor’s orders stop her as she was determined to use her eyesight until it went out. She did her best to listen in class in order to reduce her need for reading. When she graduated from college she went on to teach high school chemistry, but her first love was teaching the Bible at her church.  Her classes grew and grew in size as she taught God’s word with creativity and accuracy.  Eventually she was invited to be the Christian Education Director at a Presbyterian church in Hollywood, California. She accepted the position and immediately began to write new curriculum to replace the old dull lesson she was provided.  She wrote Sunday School lessons for first through twelfth grades which led her to eventually start a publishing company called Gospel Light Publishers.

College students were her first love and she faithfully taught their class every year. The students loved her because she taught such fun, quirky and creative lessons. Henrietta sincerely loved her students and helped them dream big dreams and catch the vision of what God could do in their lives. Hundreds of her students went on to full time Christian ministry including Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade ministries. Henrietta planted many seeds which God watered and grew into great and fruitful trees. She started a youth camp in California which is now known as Forest Home Conference Center.

One year Henrietta invited a young evangelist to preach to the kids at Forest Home camp.  This young preacher was struggling with what he believed about the inerrancy of the Bible.  Henrietta talked with him and prayed with him. Most importantly she didn’t give up on him, recognizing that God was doing a great work in this young man’s life, knowing God would carry it out to completion. The preacher took a long walk in the forest and then got down on his knees declaring to God that he would stand on the Bible as God’s truth even if it didn’t all make sense to him. Young Billy came back that evening to preach one of the most powerful sermons Henrietta had ever heard.  Many kids came to trust Christ that very night. Billy Graham went on to preach his first crusade soon after his experience at Forest Home.

Billy Graham said that Henrietta Mears was one of the most influential women in his life besides his own mother and his wife.  Aren’t you glad that Henrietta saw her students as works in progress? She didn’t give up on them. She didn’t focus on their faults, rather she poured into them and nurtured them in the Lord.  She reminds me of Paul. Henrietta wasn’t imprisoned by being chained to a guard, but she was imprisoned by her physical blindness. Yet just like Paul, she didn’t let her challenges keep her from building up others and encouraging them to be all that God wanted them to be.  She looked for the potential and not the problems.

 

This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God.  Click Here for More Info.

Chasing Happiness

patti-black-38177

Spring in Dallas just doesn’t make sense to me.  On any given day we may have a freeze warning at nightfall and 80 degree temperatures by the very next afternoon.  It’s crazy! They say if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just stay around for a couple of hours and it’ll change.

One March morning several years ago,  I stepped outside to get the newspaper and was hit with blizzard-like conditions. Well it may not have been that extreme, but it was one of those take-your-breath-away cold fronts that felt like a blizzard to this thin-blooded Southern girl.  By mid-afternoon of that very same day I was sitting out in the garden reading and enjoying some good ole Texas sunshine.

Personally, I love to be outside and love to read, so when I can find the time to enjoy both it is a happy afternoon. On this particular spring day, my personal reading agenda was the book of Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible.  Written by the apostle Paul while he was a prisoner in Rome, one could easily assume Philippians would be a real downer of a book.  On the contrary it is quite a delightful and uplifting read. In fact, the theme of joy sort of oozes through the pages from this unlikely author.

As I relaxed and tried to picture how Paul could possibly write such a positive message from a prison cell, I glanced up to see a white butterfly dancing around our garden. It was amusing to watch this fluttering creature touch a flower here, then off again to another flower there, then here, then there, then back to where it started again. It never stayed in one place for more than a few seconds as if it were pursuing something it would never find. Just as quickly as it appeared in my garden, it was off to the next field of flowers.

Observing the illusive dance of the white butterfly made me think about how illusive life’s pleasures can be. Just like this flitting creature, I realized how easy it is for me to flit, flutter and fly from one activity or person to another trying to find sweet nectar to satisfy my longings for significance and joy. I’m guessing you have felt those same feelings a time or two as well. The pursuit of happiness is common to us all.  The question is where does the chase stop, or does it? Are we fooling ourselves into thinking that there is something out there that will enrich our being and fill the hunger of our souls?

The irony of my butterfly encounter on the Spring day in Dallas, was that I was sitting there reading a book which highlights enduring qualities which transcend shifting circumstances and fleeting feelings. Paul (yes, from his prison cell) described a resilient joy, a consistent contentment and a peace which passes all understanding in his letter to the Philippians. Unlike the flitting butterfly, Paul taught the early Christians how to experience a true satisfaction of the soul.

So we must ask ourselves, “Does God call us to pursue happiness or to pursue Him and His purposes in our life?” I am convinced that our pursuit of Him leads us to experience a heart full of joy and true contentment as we live out His purposes in our lives. I want to encourage you to read the book of Philippians this week and consider what God teaches you about Himself.

“To seek God is to desire happiness; to find him is that happiness.”

Augustine

download

This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. The DVD is on sale this month for $5. Click Here for more information.